The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius swooped in by car from Los Angeles International Airport just in time to receive his Film Independent Spirit Award for best director on Saturday afternoon.
It was part of a dominant night for The Artist. The silent, black-and-white film import also won best feature, best male actor (Jean Dujardin) and best cinematography at the awards show dedicated to honoring independent film.
USA Today reported that Hazanavicius seemed only slightly out of breath on the stage when accepting his award.
“We just arrived five minutes ago,” he said with a smile. “We had a police escort from the airport. At the end it was like a clip from (the action movie) Drive.”
The Artist filmmakers and cast had been in France for the Cesar awards and cleaned up there — taking six awards. The film is the front-runner for many key awards at Sunday’s Academy Awards.
The rush to the Spirit awards from the airport was not quick enough for the presentation of Dujardin’s best male actor award. Artist star Penelope Ann Miller was forced to take to the stage and accept it on the star’s behalf.
“I’m sure he’s incredibly honored,” she said from the podium.
But Artist producer Thomas Longmann made it for his acceptance speech and pointed pointed out how “great” the journey had been for the unconventional film.
“Because every time we tried to get financing for the film people said it goes so against conventional wisdom,” he said.
While George Clooney missed out as best actor, the The Descendants did well at the awards taking home best screenplay and a best supporting female for 20-year-old Shailene Woodley.
“This is crazy, I definitely didn’t expect it,” Woodley said backstage. “I know I said umm a lot in my speech. I am sure I’m going to be mortified when I watch it.”
Christopher Plummer, widely picked as the front runner for best supporting actor at the Oscars, won the Indie Spirit for best supporting male in Beginners. He thanked his co-star Ewan Macgregor (jokingly calling him “a scene-stealing swine”) before movingly thanking his wife from the podium.
“She came into my life 43 years ago armed with a caring soul and the wisdom of Solomon,” he said.
Michelle Williams won best female for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn. She thanked the independent filmmakers present.